The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Author: Gavin De Becker
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by Fey_fox   2019-01-13

There’s a book I like to suggest to young women called The Gift of Fear that goes into how to recognize and avoid violence. It helps in pointing out subtle signs of abuse, discusses how to survive violent situations, and basically the book gives permission to trust your instincts. I know that the last bit sounds like a big bag of duh, but people (not just women) do it all the time. Things happen, often starting out with just words and moving to small gestures that indicate that this person has less respect that could later lead to harmful intent. It won’t be known for sure but it’s safer not to write the behavior off and not to self doubt.

We wouldn’t be hearing from OP if all he did was pull on her hair while going home. She said the choking thing was a first, but how many other things weren’t? We don’t know if there were other attempts at gaslighting or pushing or other things he’s done to whittle away her power and create dependency. For OP, this is a shock, because like many of us she may have chosen to write off the subtle minor behavior that lead up to this. I’m not blaming her for this to be clear, just acknowledging how people find themselves in abusive situations. “They were just X (drunk, having s bad day, etc.)” “They didn’t mean it and apologized” “I made them feel that way so I deserved it”. Etc etc. violence escalates, sometimes just through words. It’s very rare that a person can conceal their feelings to control and punish. For OP the sign she gave us here was hair pulling, coupled with his silence. She footnotes that like it wasn’t a big deal, but to me that behavior alone is a dumpable offense. That shit isn’t normal. That’s not appropriate behavior for anyone, and inexcusable in adults (unless it’s discussed beforehand, is consensual, and everyone is having fun with it, I ain’t forgetting you kinksters). The choking is a nuke from orbit offense, a go to the hospital and cops offense. That’s a line that should not be crossed, because now it’s something he knows he can get away with it OP doesn’t leave. Next time could be the last time.

Op get the fuck out, and I’d suggest you see a therapist to move past this. Good luck

by aixenprovence   2019-01-13

I have no idea. I'm sorry. It's a little unsettling that you should know so many men who don't understand how typical violence against women is. Maybe you just need a new crowd, haha.

If you find it refreshing that that someone recognizes that this kind of violence unfortunately does happen, you may find the book I mentioned to be particularly refreshing. If you feel a little overwhelmed, the book might help with that, too. (Or at least it may help put into words some thoughts you already have.)

by aixenprovence   2019-01-13

You may be interested in a book called The Gift of Fear . I would say that the author's main points are that

  • Our intuition evolved over millions of years and is quite good at protecting us in many circumstances, so when we train ourselves to ignore our intuition, we put ourselves in danger.

  • A feeling of fear is in many cases the most important flavor of intuition.

  • Rational fear is a gift, but irrational fear can be crippling, and education can help with that.

Part of the purpose of the book is to educate about danger. For example, when someone refuses to accept "no" as an answer, or they insist on providing unsolicited help in order to make another person feel obligation ("loan sharking"), those are warning signs.

Also, you mentioned:

> Double check my back who is walking in front and back of me, keep checking if someone is looking at me, think twice before getting on a public bus or cab.

Honestly, I think all of this is smart for you to do. I wish my wife were a little more thoughtful about her environment, as you seem to be.

by Daleth2   2018-11-10

Consult with an attorney. Also, get this book ASAP and read it all, especially the chapter on how to deal with stalkers:

by map_backwards   2018-11-10

The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker

Overview (partial copy/pasta from amazon): In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker[...] shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker[...] offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, to act when approached by a stranger...when you should fear someone close to you...what to do if you are being to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls...the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person...and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

I am a female redditor so /u/Powerspawn, if you or the community rather I be a quiet observer for now feel free to remove the comment. However I do think this book is a wonderful tool for those working on their mental health. I grew up in a dysfunctional family situation (to put it nicely) and from a young age was taught to not only doubt myself, but to give unearned trust and respect to people in perceived positions of power. This book was a great supplement to a lot of the other work I've been doing to reclaim myself for me.

by averagePi   2018-11-10

Já leu The Gift of Fear? Fala sobre aqueles sinais que todos nós temos que indicam que tem "alguma coisa errada" em determinadas situações. É muito útil pra qualquer pessoa. Eu sei que tem em português mas não lembro o título.

by rhapsodyknit   2018-11-10

Is he on parole? You could call his parole officer and let them know about his stalkerish behaviour.

Also, please have her read The Gift of Fear . It talks about a lot of situations, including stalking, and how to help keep yourself safe.

by Daleth2   2018-11-10

> Don't ever tell him you intend to leave until you are leaving and do so with people there who can assist you in leaving.

YES. There are more tips in this book, but OP, I would recommend you only get an electronic copy of this book (Kindle or on your computer desktop or whatever), so that he doesn't see it:

That book is a godsend. It talks about protecting yourself from both stranger violence and intimate violence. A random woman I met at a party once confided that it had saved her life. It also helped a friend of mine plan her divorce from her abusive husband.

by rhapsodyknit   2018-11-10

Please read The Gift of Fear if only for the section on stalkers. You can’t interact at all.

Document everything else.

by akuma_river   2018-11-10

There is a book about how we ignore our survival instincts for politeness and cultural behavior.

We are the only species to get into a locked moving box (elevator) with a complete stranger that you are wary of them attacking you.

The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

by rhapsodyknit   2018-11-10

Please read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It may not help with identifying the stalker, but it can help you deal with it on a personal level.

by TAKEitTOrCIRCLEJERK   2018-11-10

The simple answer is that there is positive male media out there, just not Men As Men. Like, Batman is a dude. Groot is a dude. Ethan Hunt is a dude. All those are dudes doing cool dude shit as dudes.

The more complex answer is that, on a place like Medium, there's not a whole lot of value that's going to come out of broad "male defense". Like, what specifically are you looking for? "Congratulations on not catcalling women"? "Thanks, men, for generally existing without murdering people"?

Like it or not, humans tend to be negatively focused. It is probably an innate survival instinct. So you're going to get a dozen times as many "men, stop doing thing!" articles as you will "men, thanks for doing thing!" articles.

by Daleth2   2018-03-19

These are the kinds of restraining orders available in Maryland. If either of them fits, go get one and make sure he's not allowed to contact you, period.

As a practical matter, (1) read the book I'm linking to below, and (2) can you move?

by Daleth2   2018-03-19

He's probably aware, just from seeing headlines here and there, that her chances of getting raped at college are (sadly, infuriatingly) pretty high. Would it make them both feel better if she signed up for a self-defense class and read up on how to protect herself? Not that she should have to, obviously--all blame is on the men who do that--but it could help.

I can't recommend this book strongly enough:

by PerceivedMermaid   2018-03-19

> Some of the recommendations of TRP include getting physically fit, joining a group of guy friends, and getting interesting hobbies.

That is not what TRP is famously known for. Some examples of what they support:

> Knowing that all autistic people are prone to manipulation, how will the aspergirl community protect itself from people who come from TRP and malicious/manipulative daters?

What I proposed is one way (at least to protect the people in this community). In life, I don't know. I have learned a ton by reading those subreddits, so I can now spot their "tactics" more easily. Also:

You raise interesting questions.

by Daleth2   2017-12-06

Read Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear. There is a lot of great info on how to deal with stalkers in a way that motivates them to stop stalking you.

by DailyGrowing   2017-12-06

Emotions are thoughts you think with your entire body.

For example, sadness can be a knot at the pit of your stomach. It can be a heaviness sitting on your chest or crouching on your shoulders. It can be an itching at the corner of your eyes. It can be a stiffness in the back of your neck. Sometimes, for me, sadness is a brittle, cold current running back and forth in the hollow of the bones in my forearms.

Rage can feel like a sudden surge of heat. Imagine a solar flare shooting out and scrambling satellite signals. It can feel like your teeth are erupting out of your gums (as if you're turning into a snarling wolf).

If you want to understand your own emotions, the first thing you should do is listen to your body. If there's a certain activity you can perform that is guaranteed to arouse a certain emotion in you, you can try doing that and documenting your reactions. For example, playing a videogame. What happens to you when you feel anger or frustration? What about accomplishment? Do you feel hot or cold? Light or heavy? Are your muscles taut or relaxed? Is there a particular location in your body that seems to be involved?

If you want to understand emotions in general, or how they can be useful, I recommend The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Fear is a good emotion to start with.

Incidentally, the cognitive function of feeling (Fi/Fe) is not necessarily equivalent to emotion. "Feeling" is a decision-making complex that takes into consideration human physiology and psychology, and all the various emergent structures arising from that (culture, religion, etc.). Of course, if feeling is poorly-developed, it can look like the individual is simply driven by emotions (either their own, or others').

by 8365815   2017-12-06

>I've also let my husband know that he and kiddo can go visit at least 50-60% of the time, and I'll be staying home, and husband is totally on board.

>I feel extremely sad and angry, and I want some space from my inlaws. At this point I have called my sister in law and let her know we are not coming to Thanksgiving this weekend. I have also blocked my MIL's number. My question is this: I have talked to some family members and some friends, and people seem to think that this is really harsh.

>How should I handle it when they realize what's happening? There have been accusations from them in the past that I just don't like them and that I'm forcing my husband to stay away. My husband lost it on them and they have never dared to go there again. That being said, I don't like them

Sending just DH over gives them a way to divide and conquer, or keep pleading their case with DH... and wearing him down. You need to be there, as much as you dislike them, or DS doesn't go. And here's why - it was YOUR motherly instinct already in play that you couldn't trust them, not your husband's. It's ok that your spidey sense was telling you there was something unlikable and untrustworthy about them - its now been proven correct. Confirmed that instinct. But you didn't have "A Reason" to withhold the child from DH's parents even though you had a sense of protective red flags that you should, so you were trying to "get along" and not listen to that sense of threat. Now you know better.

Take the accident off the table for a second (they were wrong, and showed enourmous lack of judgement as caregivers directly with him... but let's get to how they dealt with their fuck up with YOU) They tried to make it sound like he fell off a playground toy... there were multiple stories here, multiple LIES. They tried to see if you wouldn't notice his FRONT TEETH ARE BROKEN. Honey people with any kind of MORALS don't do that. They weren't sorry about what happened - they were terribly terribly sorry they would get caught and have consequences. Your motherly instinct was ALREADY telling you there was something wrong, something twisted, something untrustworthy, about these people. Now you have tangible confirmation, but the price is that your child had to pay for it. Please, read the book The Gift of Fear and have your DH read it as well. And then give them a time out for a few months where they dont' see you all.... as a TEST. See if they start love-bombing or demanding visits or acting worse and diminishing this and they can't control all the feelings they have and harass you all and they get angry and try to force their own way - see if they escalate the situation negatively. That tells you you have malicious narcissists who your child and yourselves need to be protected from even further. HOWEVER... if they understand and accept the boundary like reasonable, rational people, then you can slowly start letting them have a very limited, much lower-contact relationship with your child that will always be supervised by one of you (at least while he's too young to tell you himself what happens when he's around the in-laws).

Now, he's 2.. .those are still baby teeth, right? Not his permanent teeth. As much as this sucks, it's not a lifetime of disfigurement. But nope, it will ruin all kinds of pictures and every time you look at them it will make you angry and upset all over again. It's OK to have those feelings. But process them, see a therapist if you ahve to, but seriously, you need to genuinely get pst this --- because your son isn't jsut his front teeth, and isn't going to remember that his teeth are broken, and while you are looking at his teeth - he is looking at the expression on his mother's face as she is looking at him. Look in his eyes, let him see the face of the mommy who loves him, not angry mommy who he wont' know isn't angry at him. His teeth, imperfect as they are now, are part of him. Keep reminding yruself it's a chipped tooth, not a cracked skull, OK? That's a very good way to keep things in perspective. You're an intelligent woman, and this is a complex situation. I'm sorry you have to deal with it, but your gut instincts are dead-on accurate and you are absolutely tempering justice with mercy. Trust -but -verify is a real thing - and they have broken your trust. Your instincts haven't broken your trust.

by SwiggyBloodlust   2017-08-19
  • Document, document, document. Got emails, texts, weird notes? Save everything. Every time she attempts contact or someone tells you they spoke to her and what she said, write it down.


  • Call every doctor's office you, your husband or child have and explain the situation simply but bluntly. "We are verifying who is listed as being able to access anything about our information."


  • Don't speak to her. If she calls, if she emails or texts, if she or any flying monkey tries do not respond. It fans the flames and not responding gives you more of a leg to stand on legally if you need to get restraining orders.


  • Believe in yourself. You are not exaggerating, you are not overreacting. Buy The Gift of Fear or get it at your library. It's invaluable for your whole life, not just in regards to MIL.
by Daleth2   2017-08-19

You may be able to get a restraining order against him. The point of that would be to make it an arrestable offense for him to do anything that's prohibited in the restraining order. So for instance, if the RO says he can't talk to you or hang out in front of your house, just doing that would get him arrested (call cops, tell them you have an RO and he's violating it, and have the RO in hand to show them when they arrive).

But I'm more worried about your safety. Please read this book--it can literally be a lifesaver. Years back I knew a woman who told me it had saved her life when her violent ex was stalking her, and it also helped a friend of mine escape a violent marriage without suffering any more violence: